DDR3 Memory vs DDR4 Memory
Last Updated On: August 10, 2015
Ok, so by now you have read all about the features of DDR4 memory, but you have questions about how much of a performance increase it really has over DDR3. This article will walk you through the technical comparisons, then talk a bit more about DDR4 memory and finally, we will see just how much of a performance increase there is from DDR4 over DDR3.
512MB - 8GB
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DDR4 memory has a much higher transfer speed, which means that programs load into memory faster and swap back into memory faster. Another advantage that DDR4 memory modules possess is the higher density of storage. A single stick of DDR4 memory can contain up to 16GB of data, while a single stick of DD3 memory is limited to 8GB of data.
The DDR3 standard has been in use since 2007. This makes 2014 the seventh year in which DDR3 memory was used. The following table compares the feature set of DDR4 memory with DDR3 memory.
The key features that are of most interest to consumers are in the Performance and Efficiency categories. Under Efficiency, we see that DDR4 uses a lower voltage than DDR3, which means that battery life is increased in mobile devices such as laptops. Available storage and transfer rates are also higher on DDR4 memory which means that more data can be stored on a single module and it can be read and written much faster.
The CRC feature of DDR4 also ensures that data is written properly to memory without corruption. This is important because it means that applications will experience fewer crashes due to memory corruption. If the DDR4 memory controller detects a write error, it will re-write the data to correct the error automatically.
To learn more about DDR4 memory vs DDR3 memory, watch this video to see how they stack up against each other in an apples to apples comparison.
So what does this all mean?
If we cut through the technological fog around the above data, we can see a clear picture why DDR4 is superior to DDR3. In short, the answer is speed. Data moves into and out of DDR4 chips at a rate much higher than the DDR3 chips. This means that your computer will boot up faster, load programs faster, and respond faster to each click. No more waiting for your computer to react to your commands. No more wondering if you actually double-clicked, or just single-clicked twice in a row.
Part of the reason why DDR4 has so much faster speed is that DDR4 requires a DDR4 motherboard as well as a powerful, quad-core CPU that supports the Haswell-E platform and X-99 chipset. These are all modern releases, so no bargain bin copycat hardware to be found here. As a result, a computer built on this platform will really move through the bits and the bytes.
One feature that deserves to be called out in particular however is the CRC feature on reliability. This is normally only found on servers. What CRC does is to check the data as it enters and leaves memory to make sure that it is intact and free from corruption. When data gets corrupted in memory it can create a blue screen error on your computer or worse, not show any errors at all but cause your data to be changed or lost. CRC features help to eliminate this problem from occurring by adding double and triple checks as memory enters or leaves memory.
Does the performance justify the upgrade?
This question is a very tricky question to answer. Each person has a different idea of what it means to justify something. Especially when you try to justify an additional expense. It should be no surprise that DDR4 memory, motherboards, and CPUs are more expensive than the older DDR3 counterparts. If you are economically inclined, you might consider the marginal benefits between DDR3 and DDR4 systems.
According to the video above, there isn’t a large gap in performance between the initial release DDR3 memory versus the initial release DDR4 memory. Both platforms are capable of running in full 1080p at over 170 frames per second in most modern games. For comparison, the human eye can only perceive 255 frames per second and TV broadcasts are 30 frames per second.
For most casual users, the performance benefit probably doesn’t justify the upgrade. In this case, unless your current setup is already several years old or is having problems, you can probably get away with your current setup or increasing the amount of memory in your current setup. Other than that, there isn’t really any other compelling reason to spend the money on the upgrade.
Even most power users wouldn’t benefit a large amount from upgrading. Gamers will only see a nominal increase in frame rate by upgrading the memory. Video editors and other multimedia artists might see a noticeable increase in video rendering times. However, the storage system on the x99 chipset is probably the primary driver for this class of user over the memory.
If you are a casual user, but looking for a completely new computer and have around $1,500 to spend, a DDR4 platform would be a decent use of the money. At this point, the new platform offers enough features on the x99 chipset that building a new PC around it is feasible. The primary driver here though is the number of SATA and USB ports on the motherboard as opposed to the performance of the DDR4 memory.
Wrapping it all up
At this time, upgrading doesn’t really offer a noticeable performance increase according to several benchmarks. Sure, raw speed is faster, but when translated to practical terms, it doesn’t really present a compelling argument for spending a 60% price premium over older components. Since technology is always changing, this argument may not even be valid six months from now. If you can wait to upgrade, then wait, otherwise, feel free to plunge ahead into the brave new world of DDR4 memory.